Ralph Nader speaks at Sonoma State University

Ralph Nader speaks at Sonoma State University

October 11, 2011


Ralph Nader brings power back to the people

By Aimee Gonzalez

“How many of you have never been inside of a McDonald’s? How about a Starbucks? What about Walmart?”

These are the questions Ralph Nader, an independent and five-time presidential candidate of the U.S., presented his audience of students on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Not a single individual raised a hand in response to the first two questions, to which Nader was not surprised. He was impressed by the few hands raised representing those who had never set foot inside of a Walmart. There was an applause—just one of five of the evening.

“How to Fix Our Broken Economy,” the theme of Nader’s lecture, was an event drawing an audience of students, faculty members and community members, filling up every row of seats in the Cooperage. His lecture offered multiple solutions to our corporate-powered nation.

Nader suggested sharply cutting the military budget. According to Nadar, the $2 blliion that would be saved in one year could pay for the higher education of all students currently living in the U.S. or cover every person without health insurance.

“We don’t need it,” said Nader.

His other solutions included restoring tax-cuts on the wealthy and focusing on community economies.

According to Nader, the key is self-reliance. If more money is put into repairing America by establishing job work programs, renovating schools, clinics, libraries and public transit, as well as growing and buying food locally, the need to rely on corporations will decrease.

Sophomore Anthony Gallino found the lecture to be one of the more entertaining and informative events put on by Associated Student Productions.

“I have often found lectures to be one or the other; either they were super entertaining with little substance or full of substance, and I see the lecturer losing the crowd’s attention because they are not so entertaining,” said sophomore Anthony Gallino in an e-mail interview.

“Moreover, I saw Mr. Nader, a surprisingly good orator, capture both the audience and provide a discussion of great substance,” Gallino added.

Nader said that society does not learn civic skills and that people grow up corporate, as opposed to civil.

“We don’t learn democracy in schools,” said Nader.

Violence, welfare, regulations, crime. What comes to mind when you hear these words? Nader asked the audience to make a list of words

silently in their minds, then he began to throw out statistics.

According to Nader, last year there were 16,000 homicides, 15,000 work-related deaths, 65,000 deaths from air pollutions, 100,000 from malpractice in hospitals and 45,000 tied to undiagnosed individuals who do not have healthcare.

“These are warms-ups designed to get us angry—angry,” said Nader.

Political science major Garret Wessel is already very familiar with Nader’s views and looked forward to this event a great deal.

“He was my mom’s hero growing up,” said Wessel.

According to Wessel, what stood out about Nader’s lecture was his willingness to criticize what is happening in America, pointing out that Americans have freedoms that they are letting disappear.

“He is reminding us that we’re the force that drives this nation, but we let corporations control the workers’ drive,” said Wessel.

According to Nader, people learn to obey and not ask questions and to not expose themselves to the literature that is about these topics.

“You’ve got the toughest 20s in the last 50 years,” said Nader.

He then went on to explain how all blue-collar jobs are now overseas and that university tuition fees are the highest ever.

According to Nader, focusing on Congress, particularly students doing so, and using the power it has by watching its members closely is just one of many solutions to fixing the broken economy.

Some of the content of the lecture was quite new to English major Robert Porter.

“I learned a great deal about corporate crime and the ways in which the monopolies and corporations ‘cheat’ and ‘steal’ to keep themselves in power,” said Porter in an e-mail interview. “The bourgeoisie only gets richer and more powerful, while the proletariat class struggles to find healthcare and a decent wage or even a job.”

“The lecture did motivate me, very much so. I didn’t know the true horrific extend of our problems in this country and, more importantly, I now know there are possibilities to make a change,” added Porter.

Nader quoted philosopher and political theorist Marcus Cicero on his definition of freedom. He said that freedom is participation in power.

“What stood out [about the lecture] is the knowledge that change is possible. If the correct steps are taken, then we can change the direction this country is moving,” said Porter.

“Remember, it’s we the people. There is nothing about we the corporations,” Porter added.

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